SWORD OF SHADOWS

History, mythology, and mystery mix in a rollicking adventure that offers a fresh perspective on the famous Arthurian legend.

In 1396, a famous tracker of men and objects leaves London for the wilds of Cornwall in search of a fabulous treasure.

Crispin Guest and his apprentice, Jack Tucker (Traitor’s Codex, 2019, etc.), meet by chance with Carantok Teague, a Cornishman who offers them a large sum to help him track down the mythical Excalibur. Although neither is convinced the sword exists, they leave immediately on the long trip to Treknow, the closest village to Tintagel. Since Crispin, a disgraced but honorable former knight, refuses to participate in illegal treasure hunting, it’s fortunate that Teague has an old letter from King Edward III allowing him to search for treasure. A group of traveling players they encounter includes Kat Pyke, a former lover, burglar, and swindler who’s bested Crispin in the past. Crispin also meets the scholarly Marzhin Gwyls, a caretaker at Tintagel Castle, a crumpled ruin guarded by a few men at arms and a constable. On their first visit, Teague moves the heavy stone over the hole where he stores some of his treasures only to find the body of a man at arms. The castle constable asks Crispin to find Roger Bennet’s killer. The castle is barely guarded, and Bennet had a reputation as a womanizer who had earned the enmity of many a maiden. While Crispin investigates the murder, Jack helps Teague search for the sword, and Kat, always interested in items of value, seduces Crispin, who should know better. Among the suspects are the villagers, Bennet’s fellows at Tintagel, and hostile pagans living nearby. Teague, it turns out, does indeed have a nose for treasure, and the search looks to be successful if they’re not all killed off by the mysterious person who’s killed another man at arms and left Kat to take the blame.

History, mythology, and mystery mix in a rollicking adventure that offers a fresh perspective on the famous Arthurian legend.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8921-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

BADLANDS

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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